The blue crab is a popular crustacean specie, being both predator and prey in the Chesapeake Bay food web. Being a member of the swimming crab family, they are an aggressive, bottom dwelling predator and the most recognizable species in the Bay. Blue crabs make up the most productive commercial and recreational fisheries in the Chesapeake Bay . Blue crabs are prey to many species, from birds, soft-shelled crabs, eels, catfish, cow nose rays, some sharks, and humans as well.
More than one-third of all blue crabs that are caught come from the Chesapeake Bay . Watermen harvest over 100 million pounds of blue crabs annually. They are harvested as hard shell crabs, peeler crabs, and soft shell crabs, which have the highest value of any of the Bay's commercial fisheries. Crabs bring over $50 million per year. The human population has increased along the Bay, and crabs have been on the wanted list for the longest time. Due to this over harvesting as well as environmental damage, populatiosn of adult blue crabs have decreased and are still decreasing to this very day. Because this is happening, debates over fishing quotas, stricter farming rules, and the possibility of increasing taxes to clean up the Bay have occurred.
As a result, profits for fishermen have fallen sharply. As oysters, striped bass, and rockfish stocks collapsed due to over fishing, diseases, and water quality issues, the seafood industry has become more dependent upon crab harvesting. Blue crabs are now the last resort for watermen to try to make a living off the Bay. Industries are becoming incapable of making a profit as they go against each other trying to obtain this species.